Marquise Williams

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No. 17 Baylor sets bowl rushing record in grounding and pounding of No. 10 North Carolina


“Hey Art,” the fictional interview opened, “you’re down your top two quarterbacks, your top running back, the best receiver in college football and your starting right tackle. How can you possibly hope to move the ball against North Carolina?”

The cocksure Texan took a swig of his iced tea and chuckled. “Watch me,” he said.

No. 17 Baylor (10-3) scrapped its high-flying offense for an entirely ground-based attack and set No. 10 North Carolina’s (11-3) defense on fire, beating the Tar Heels 49-38 in the Russell Athletic Bowl Tuesday night in Orlando.

Art Briles‘ Bears ran 102 plays on the night – 18 passes and 84 runs. The runs break down as follows:

  • Johnny Jefferson: 23 carries for 299 yards and three touchdowns.
  • Devin Chafin27 carries for 156 yards and one touchdown.
  • Terence Williams: 16 carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Lynx Hawthorne: seven carries for 63 yards and one touchdown.
  • Chris Johnson: nine carries for 36 yards.

Add in two team carries for minus-6 yards and you get 84 rushes for 645 yards — 7.68 a carry — and seven touchdowns. The 645 yards are a bowl game record, and Baylor surpassed the Russell Athletic Bowl rushing record in one half. Johnson led Baylor’s passing efforts by hitting 7-of-12 throws for 82 yards and an interception; Jefferson, Chafin and Hawthorne also completed a pass apiece.

Jefferson began the night with 701 yards on the season, and his 299 yards against the Heels put him at an even 1,000 on the season. For the year, Baylor finished with two 1,000-yard passers, two 1,000-yard rushers and one 1,000-yard receiver.

As for the game at hand, Baylor led 14-10 early in the second quarter until Jefferson busted back-to-back touchdown runs, giving the Bears a 28-10 cushion. North Carolina pulled back within four after Marquise Williams punched in a four-yard touchdown run with 35 seconds left in the second quarter and a one-yard run to close a 75-yard march to open the second half.

After (however shockingly) two straight scoreless drives, Williams reached in for a three-yard score and, after a Heels fumble inside Baylor’s end zone, Jefferson opened the next possession by rushing 80 yards for a touchdown, nudging Baylor’s lead to 42-24 with 2:04 to play in the third quarter.

North Carolina would never pull closer than 11 points over the remaining 17 minutes.

North Carolina’s offense put up its share of yards, as Williams hit 22-of-36 passes for 243 yards with three touchdowns and one interception (that wasn’t his fault) with 17 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns. Elijah Hood rushed 13 times for 118 yards, including a 67-yard burst that was a Russell Athletic Bowl record until Jefferson’s 80-yard touchdown scamper three plays later.

Hood’s rush set the Heels up with a first-and-goal at the Baylor 8, and T.J. Logan‘s first down rush pushed the ball to the two. Aiavion Edwards punched the ball loose as Logan charged toward the end zone on second down, and Baylor’s Orion Stewart hopped on the loose pigskin.

Jefferson’s 80-yard blast on the next play ended any realistic hope North Carolina had of pulling the comeback.


ACC coaches tab Deshaun Watson as Player of the Year

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The media, rightly, thought highly of Deshaun Watson when doling out its postseason awards.  Now, the league’s coaches are following suit.

The ACC Wednesday announced its all-league selections and honors as voted on by its head coaches, with the Clemson quarterback taking home the conference’s overall Player of the Year award.  Additionally, and not surprisingly, Watson was named as the Offensive Player of the Year.

Watson received 10 of the 14 first-place votes for overall Player of the Year, with Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams splitting the other two votes.  Watson received 11 first-place votes for the offensive award, followed by Williams’ two and Cook’s one.

Watson’s counterpart on the other side of the ball, Duke safety Jeremy Cash, was named Defensive Player of the Year, while Watson’s sideline boss, Dabo Swinney, took home Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Tigers to a perfect regular season and top seed in the College Football Playoff.  Cash received six first-place votes — Clemson’s Shaq Lawson had five — while Swinney’s 11 easily outdistanced North Carolina’s Larry Fedora‘s three.

Pittsburgh safety Jordan Whitehead was selected as the Defensive Rookie of the Year (nine first-place votes), while his teammate, running back Qadree Ollison, was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year (eight).  With five first-place votes each, Ollison and Whitehead were named co-Rookies of the Year.

Below are the first- and second-team offenses and defenses, again as selected by the conference’s coaches.  One note: coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players for any of the honors. In that vein, Pittsburgh wide receiver Tyler Boyd, with 39 votes (first-place votes are worth three points), was as close to a unanimous first-team selection as you can get, with Cook’s 38 votes not far behind.

First-Team Offense
WR Tyler Boyd, Jr., Pitt (39)
WR Artavis Scott, So., Clemson (34)
WR Isaiah Ford, So., Virginia Tech (26)
TE Jordan Leggett, Jr., Clemson (22)
T Roderick Johnson, So., Florida State (33)
T Adam Bisnowaty, Jr.-R, Pitt (30)
G Landon Turner, Sr., North Carolina (36)
G Eric Mac Lain, Sr.-R, Clemson (30)
C Matt Skura, Sr.-R, Duke (35)
QB Deshaun Watson, So., Clemson (37)
RB Dalvin Cook, So., Florida State (38)
RB Wayne Gallman, So.-R, Clemson (30)
K Roberto Aguayo, Jr.-R, Florida State (32)
Sp. Ryan Switzer, Jr., North Carolina (29)

Second-Team Offense
WR Stacey Coley, Jr., Miami (20)
WR Kermit Whitfield, Jr., Florida State (20)
WR Canaan Severin, Sr., Virginia (17)
TE(tie) Jaylen Samuels, So., NC State ( 15)
TE(tie) Bucky Hodges, So.-R, Virginia Tech (15)
T Jon Heck, Jr.-R, North Carolina (19)
T Joe Thuney, Sr.-R, NC State (19)
G Dorian Johnson, Jr., Pitt (19)
G Caleb Peterson, Jr.-R, North Carolina (17)
C Jay Guillermo, Jr.-R, Clemson (14)
QB Marquise Williams, Sr., North Carolina (23)
RB Elijah Hood, So., North Carolina (29)
RB Qadree Ollison, Fr.-R, Pitt (20)
K Ross Martin, Sr., Duke (14)
Sp. DeVon Edwards, Jr.-R, Duke (23)

First-Team Defense
DE Shaq Lawson, Jr.-R, Clemson (35)
DE Ejuan Price, Sr.-R, Pitt (25)
DT Connor Wujciak, Sr., Boston College (28)
DT Nile Lawrence-Stample, Sr.-R, Florida State (27)
LB Steven Daniels, Sr., Boston College ( 28)
LB Brandon Chubb, Sr.-R, Wake Forest (24)
LB Ben Boulware, Jr., Clemson (24)
CB Jalen Ramsey, Jr., Florida State (36)
CB Mackensie Alexander, So.-R, Clemson (29)
S Jeremy Cash, Sr.-R, Duke (36)
S Jayron Kearse, Jr., Clemson (28)
P Alex Kinal, Sr.-R, Wake Forest (19)

Second-Team Defense
DE Mike Rose, Sr.-R, NC State (16)
DE Sheldon Rankins, Sr., Louisville (14)
DT Luther Maddy, Sr.-R, Virginia Tech (26)
DT Carlos Watkins, Jr.-R, Clemson (17)
LB Keith Kelsey, Jr., Louisville (20)
LB Micah Kiser, So.-R, Virginia (19)
LB(tie) Dwayne Norman, Sr., Duke (17)
LB(tie) Reggie Northrup, Sr., Florida State (17)
CB Artie Burns, Jr., Miami (26)
CB Des Lawrence, Jr., North Carolina (11)
S Quin Blanding, So., Virginia (21)
S Justin Simmons, Sr., Boston College ( 16)
P Riley Dixon, Sr., Syracuse (17)

No. 1 Clemson punches Playoff ticket with ACC title win over No. 10 UNC

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With a 42-23 lead and 11:34 remaining, Clemson appeared cruising to the College Football Playoff. Ten minutes later, the Tigers had to recover an onside kick to survive a hard-charging North Carolina team. But survive they did, and a 45-37 win over the No. 10 Heels gives No. 1 Clemson its 15th ACC championship and sends the Tigers to their first College Football Playoff — likely as the No. 1 overall seed.

ACC Player of the Year Deshaun Watson made his case for a much larger award, hitting 26-of-42 passes for 289 yards with three touchdowns and one interception while rushing 24 times for 131 yards and two scores.

Clemson scored on three consecutive drives, marching 68, 97 and 36 yards, to turn a 16-14 second quarter deficit into a 35-16 third quarter lead.

Watson’s interception propelled North Carolina to its next score as Marquise Williams capped a 42-yard drive with a one-yard plunge, but the Tigers immediately responded with an 11-play, 80-yard drive, to seemingly put the game away with a 19-point advantage and 11 minutes to protect it.

But North Carolina scored 100 seconds later to pull within 42-30 and, after a Clemson field goal, slashed 49 yards in one minute to claw within 45-37 with 1:13 remaining and all three timeouts in their pocket. The Tar Heels recovered the ensuing onside kick but a phantom offsides call forced a re-kick. Clemson recovered the second kick after the ball touched a number of hands on both sides, and one more first down officially punched the Tigers’ ticket.

Clemson owned the line of scrimmage for the majority of the night, achieving 33 first downs and converting 9-of-18 third downs. The Tigers out-gained UNC 608-382 and held a 319-142 advantage on the ground. Wayne Gallman led all players with 187 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.

Williams completed 11-of-33 throws for 224 yards with three touchdowns and an interception while rushing 17 times for a team-high 81 yards with a touchdown and a fumble.

North Carolina opened the scoring with a field goal and grabbed a 9-7 first quarter lead on a 40-yard catch-and-run score from Williams to T.J. Logan.

Clemson led 14-9 in the second quarter when punter Andy Teasdall took off on a surprise fake punt on 4th-and-15 in his own territory. He was stopped 11 yards short, and Williams hit Ryan Switzer for a three-yard touchdown to put North Carolina back on top 16-14 with 3:52 remaining in the first half.

But Clemson drove 68 yards for a touchdown with just two seconds remaining in the first half, reclaiming a lead it would not relinquish.

Clemson recovers from fake punt gaffe to hold slight lead in ACC title game

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Everything was going great for Clemson. The Tigers led 14-9 and, sure, they were about to punt. But Clemson’s defense had held North Carolina to three consecutive three-and-outs, traveling minus-seven, zero and minus-two yards in the process.

And then Andy Teasdall took off.

Facing a 4th-and-15 deep in his own territory, Teasdall decided, to the surprise of everyone inside Bank of America Stadium up to and including his own teammates and coaches, to try to run for the first down.

North Carolina scored four plays later on a three-yard chuck from Marquise Williams to Ryan Switzer to grab a 16-14 lead with 3:52 to play in the half.

Clemson answered when Watson, with no timeouts remaining, hit Jordan Leggett for a one-yard touchdown toss. Clemson leads 21-16 after a first half that saw five lead changes.

Making his final Heisman Trophy argument on a day when Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey have shined, Watson has completed 19-of-32 throws for 191 yards and two touchdowns while rushing 13 times for a game-high 99 yards and one touchdown.

North Carolina marched 58 yards in nine plays to set up a 30-yard Nick Weiler field goal on its first possession of the game, then notched a 40-yard snatch-and-dash touchdown from Williams to T.J. Logan but, outside of those plays the Clemson defense has had its way with the Heels’ attack.

Williams, a Charlotte native, hit just 3-of-12 passes for 50 yards in the half, and three Carolina rushes combined to rush 15 times for only 37 yards. North Carolina has but seven first downs and sits at 1-of-7 on third down.

Clemson has out-gained North Carolina 309-103 through one half for an even 3-to-1 advantage.

North Carolina will receive to open the second half.


Deshaun Watson claims ACC Player of the Year honors

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Not surprisingly, the best player on the best team in the ACC has pulled in the conference’s top honor.

One day after Dabo Swinney took home honors as top coach, the Clemson head coach’s quarterback, Deshaun Watson, has been named as the ACC’s Player of the Year.  Watson, likely headed to New York City in a couple of weeks as a top Heisman vote-getter, currently leads the ACC in total offense (331.6 yards per game) total touchdowns (36), passing yardage (3,223), touchdown passes (27) and passing efficiency rating (161.9).

This is the third time in the last seven years that a Tiger has received Player of the Year honors, with the true sophomore joining quarterback Tajh Boyd (2012) and running back C.J. Spiller.

Watson received 39 of the 50 first-place votes, with another nine going to Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. Duke safety Jeremy Cash, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams, who will square off with Watson in the conference championship game Saturday, each received one vote apiece.

In addition to the overall Player of the Year , Watson was also named the Offensive Player of the Year by the media.

“If you look at any championship team out there, most of them have a great quarterback and leader,” Swinney said in a statement. “That’s what we have. It’s a huge advantage when you have the best player in the nation, and I believe he is that.”